Praying Through the Bible #122
TEXT: Matthew 6:1-8
1 Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven.
2 Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
3 But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth:
4 That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly.
5 And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward.
6 But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.
7 But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking.
8 Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.
Back in 1974, a group of scientists directed a message into the heavens. These scientists had hypothesized that as many as fifty million civilizations may exist somewhere in space, and they believed that some of them may have found methods to improve life and control the time of death. In November of 1974, these scientists, using special technology, beamed a message to a cluster of stars on the outer edge of our galaxy. If that signal were picked up by alien technology, the scientists estimated that it would take forty-eight thousand years for an answer to come back.
To some today, those efforts might seem futile and destined for failure. Yet those scientists were serious about their efforts — they really believed that one day Earth might receive an answer back from some other intelligent life in the universe. That leads us to wonder why we as Christians, who do have contact with “another world,” Heaven, sometimes act as if we don’t believe in the power of prayer. Every child of God has the ability to get in touch, not with other creatures, but with the Creator Himself. Through prayer, we have immediate access to the One who stretched out the galaxies of the universe. He hears us the instant we pray and answers according to His will.
So far in this series on the principles Jesus Christ taught regarding prayer, we have looked at the following six:
1. Prayer should be a regular, everyday activity.
2. Prayer ought not to be done for the purpose of being seen by others.
3. Those who pray in a hypocritical manner — that is to be seen by men — will get their reward: they will be heard by men, and receive their praise from men, but they will not have their prayers answered by God.
4. Most prayer ought to be carried out faithfully in private before God alone.
5. Those who pray in secret before God will be heard by God and rewarded openly.
6. We should not use vain repetition in our prayers.
Today, we are going to look at the next principle which is that we ought to acknowledge God’s sovereignty and omniscience in our prayers. Verse 8 of our passage reads, “Your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Of course, this begs the question: if God already knows what we need, why pray?
Well, first, Jesus shares this with us to remind us of God’s sovereignty. Nothing we do or say comes as a surprise to God. He already knows what we need to live our lives. When we pray, we ought not to assume that we are informing God of what is going on in our lives. As David said in Psalm 139, “O lord… Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O Lord, thou knowest it altogether.“
In fact, God knows our needs better than we know them. He is sovereign and omniscient. In the matter of prayer, this brings us to only one conclusion: when we pray, we are praying not for God’s sake, but for our sake. When we pray, we express our total dependence on Him for our needs and our wants. It is an act of humility for us to surrender to God and let Him know that we acknowledge His sovereignty in our lives.
Ray Pritchard explains it this way. He said, “Picture a father watching his four-year-old daughter trying to put together a puzzle. She tries and tries but she just can’t get the pieces in the right place. Her father watches with great interest but he doesn’t interfere. Finally, she comes over and crawls in his lap and says, ‘Daddy, would you help me put my puzzle together?’ He smiles and bends down and together they begin to pick up each piece. One by one they put the puzzle together. Now why didn’t the father help his daughter earlier? For one thing, she didn’t ask for his help. For another, he wanted her to try on her own. And most of all, he wanted her to ask him for his help. When she did, he was honored and gladly helped her finish the puzzle. Is this not a picture of how our Heavenly Father deals with his children? Although he longs to come to our aid, often he waits until we specifically ask him. Sometimes he wants us to come to the end of our own pitiful resources before he intervenes. When we cry out in despair, he is honored as we express our complete dependence upon him. Every prayer is the cry of a child saying, ‘Help, Father, I can’t do this by myself.’…God doesn’t need our prayers, but we need to pray. We pray in order to express our complete dependence on our Heavenly Father. We pray to build our faith. We pray because he is God and we are not.”
When we realize that God already knows our needs and yet we go to Him and ask for them anyway, we submit ourselves to God’s divine plan for carrying out His will in the universe. We cease trying to do things our way and make room for God to do things His way. Even though He knows what we are going to pray for before we come to Him, He has ordained that prayer is the way by which we get what we need and want.
Praying to God in light of His omniscience and sovereignty also helps us to examine our requests in the light of His will. Because God already knows the deepest desires of our hearts, we can re-evaluate our wishes and truly see if they are in alignment with God’s will. Thus, we can begin to pray more effectively and we will be more careful stewards of provisions from God which He supplies in answer to our prayers.
It is often said that prayer changes things. That is true. But prayer does not change God or God’s will. The main change brought about by prayer is a change in us. Through prayer to a sovereign, omniscient God who already knows our needs, we grow in humility and faith, and we become better prepared for the changes that will be brought about in our circumstances and the course of events in our lives and the lives of others.
In closing, allow me to share with you this poem titled “My Father Knows” by Sarepta Henry:
I know my heavenly Father knows
The storms that would my way oppose;
But He can drive the clouds away,
And turn the darkness into day.
I know my heavenly Father knows
The balm I need to soothe my woes;
And with His touch of love divine
He heals this wounded heart of mine.
I know my heavenly Father knows
How frail I am to meet my foes;
But He my cause will ever defend,
Uphold and keep me to the end.
I know my heavenly Father knows
The hour my journey here will close;
And may that hour, O faithful Guide,
Find me safe and sheltered by Thy side.
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Now, if you are with us today, and you do not know the Lord Jesus Christ as your Saviour, your first prayer needs to be what we call the Sinner’s Prayer. Please understand that you are a sinner, just as I am, and that you have broken God’s laws. The Bible says in Romans 3:23: “For all have sinned and come short of the glory of God.” Please understand that because of your sins, you deserve eternal punishment in hell. Romans 6:23 says “the wages of sin is death…” This is both physical death and spiritual death in hell. That is the bad news.
The good news is found in John 3:16 which says, “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
If you believe that Jesus Christ died on the cross for your sins, was buried, and rose from the dead, and you want to trust Him for your salvation today, please pray with me this simple prayer: Holy Father God, I realize that I am a sinner and that I have done some bad things in my life. For Jesus Christ sake, please forgive me of my sins. I now believe with all of my heart that Jesus Christ died for me, was buried, and rose again. Lord Jesus, please come into my heart and save my soul and change my life today. Amen.
If you just trusted Jesus Christ as your Saviour, and you prayed that prayer and meant it from your heart, I declare to you that based upon the Word of God, you are now saved from Hell and you are on your way to Heaven. Welcome to the family of God! I want to congratulate you on doing the most important thing in life and that is receiving Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour. For more information to help you grow in your newfound faith in Christ, go to Gospel Light Society.com and read “What To Do After You Enter Through the Door”. Jesus Christ said in John 10:9, “I am the door, by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.”
God loves you. We love you. And may God bless you.
Daniel Whyte III has spoken in meetings across the United States and in over twenty-five foreign countries. He is the author of over forty books. He is also the president of Gospel Light Society International, a worldwide evangelistic ministry that reaches thousands with the Gospel each week, as well as president of Torch Ministries International, a Christian literature ministry which publishes a monthly magazine called The Torch Leader. He is heard by thousands each week on his radio broadcasts/podcasts, which include: The Prayer Motivator Devotional, The Prayer Motivator Minute, as well as Gospel Light Minute X, the Gospel Light Minute, the Sunday Evening Evangelistic Message, the Prophet Daniel’s Report, the Second Coming Watch Update and the Soul-Winning Motivator, among others. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Theology from Bethany Divinity College, a Bachelor’s degree in Religion from Texas Wesleyan University, a Master’s degree in Religion, a Master of Divinity degree, and a Master of Theology degree from Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He has been married to the former Meriqua Althea Dixon, of Christiana, Jamaica for over twenty-seven years. God has blessed their union with seven children. Find out more at www.danielwhyte3.com. Follow Daniel Whyte III on Twitter @prophetdaniel3 or on Facebook.